Develop These Six Critical Traits…And Success Will Surely Follow.

Being general business sales and marketing consultants allows us the opportunity to encounter almost every business situation imaginable. We regularly consult at least 30 businesses a month from over 160 different industries. These businesses vary from start-ups to turnarounds to already highly profitable businesses.

We deal with people who are sharp as tacks and with people who ought to be banned for life from business for their stupidity. We’ve designed and implemented marketing programs for print shops, banks, retail stores of all kinds, multi-level marketers, real estate companies, churches, politicians, famous seminar leaders, personal development coaches, and anything else you can think of. In one year alone we looked at, consulted with or implemented marketing for no fewer than 420 different organizations.

Which makes us laugh when we get asked the inevitable question: “Rich & Ed, you guys are barely in your 30s, yet you can walk into my business that you’ve never seen before and figure out a detailed strategy in just 9 minutes. How in the world do you do this?”

The answer is simple: The marketing function for every single business or organization – plus or minus 5% – is exactly the same. We aren’t so smart. We just know how to do a few key things anyone can do with a minimal amount of training. Here are the six traits to mastering marketing revealed for the first time ever. (Don’t be disappointed that you’ve heard everything here before. I already told you that we’re not smart. This stuff is Eeeeeeeeee-Z.)

Trait #1: Notice Your Own Buying Strategies: Pay closer attention to what everyone else in the world is doing to try to sell you something.

You’ll find that there are already lots of good ideas out there that you don’t have to invent again. I don’t watch TV for the programs; I channel surf for commercials. I turn the station if music comes on the radio. I get on every mailing list I can to see what kind of “junk” will show up in my mailbox. I interview those jerk-o telemarketers that interrupt my dinner to see how well their pitch is working with other prospects. I love junk fax. I read all billboards. I go shopping just to see how the sales clerks treat me. I read the paper and magazines for advertisements and then if I have time, I read the articles. I read the yellow pages for fun (even though 99.99% of the ads stink). I respond to every “free” offer under the sun. Then I check to see how well the company follows up.

“But you’re a marketing consultant! I would expect you to behave this way! I just run a (fill in whatever you do here)…what does all that have to do with me?” Our business is making money. Period. What’s yours? If you ask me, it’s also making money. I don’t care what you do. You are in the business of marketing something in an effort to make money.

If you will constantly monitor what turns you on, what ads keep appearing week after week, what makes you like something or hate something, you will start to find things that you can incorporate into your business. Then we can talk about Trait #2…

Trait #2: The Ability To Cross-Pollinate Ideas: This isn’t a botany lesson. To cross-pollinate an idea means to take an idea that works well in one industry and use it in another. If you get a chance, go to the shoe store called Just For Feet. See if you notice anything that could be adapted to an upscale floor-covering store catering to designers.

Sound like a tough assignment? Basketball shoes and expensive oriental rugs just don’t match, do they? Quit using your brain to worry about all the details and start to use it to look at things in more general terms. When you walk into Just for Feet, you’ll immediately notice the music is very loud and geared toward young people. There’s a huge video screen that either has music videos or live sporting events. There’s an indoor basketball court that always has at least a half a dozen people waiting to play. They have a snack bar and free popcorn. It is a FUN place to be.

So what can you, as an expert marketer, take out of Just for Feet and inject into the high-end floor-covering store catering to designers? Just for Feet made their stores a place where their target market (young people) wanted to be. They added elements of FUN none of their competitors have. They are killing their competition. The high-end floor-covering store needs to make their store THE PLACE to be for designers. How? By asking designers what they want.

This was a real situation for a real client. Here’s what they did:

1. Put in a cappuccino machine, sodas, and snacks the designers can have for free without having to ask.
2. Provided four offices designers can use at any time…loaded with all of the office essentials, like fax, copier, computers, phone, etc. We actually got this idea from an insurance brokerage agency client of ours.
3. Provided a nice conference room for designers to use with their clients.
4. Provided free and discounted rates for related services such as carpet cleaning and installation services.
5. Provided samples and loaner pieces to help designers sell their customers.

This stuff all sounds simple, but there is one fact that you might not realize: There is not even one other floor covering store that offers even one of these services to designers.

Borrow ideas from everywhere. We sell grand pianos the way most car dealers sell cars…by giving away a huge package of free stuff with every purchase. We sell foundation repair and plumbing the way a realtor sells houses…with a metal sign in a yard with a “take one” tube on top. We sell SBA loans the same way we sell cellular phones…by advertising over the fax. Get yourself out of your paradigm of “what you do” and realize that as long as it’s legal, moral, ethical and a given idea makes money, it’s worth pursuing.

Trait #3: Be Specific: I don’t want to go into my entire discourse about how people in general are lazy communicators. Just suffice it to say, 99% of what’s said in marketing and advertising is useless, non-compelling, non-specific, non-definitive, amorphous FLUFF. You probably say things like tastes best, highest quality, biggest selection, best service, and lowest price. But think about the impact of these types of statements on your prospects.

Your prospects fully expect you to claim that you’re great. Who ever heard of a promotion that said, “Our prices are high, our service is terrible, and our quality is marginal at best!” To set yourself apart from the competition, you must quantify all claims made in specific, compelling terms.

Instead of saying largest selection, say “15,400 square feet divided into 5 showrooms, with over 5,220 items from 327 manufacturers, in 2,022 styles and 460 colors, in price ranges from $.99 to $27,000.” Which do you believe? Instead of saying qualified mechanics, say “Most auto repair facilities have one or two certified mechanics. We have 11 ASE certified mechanics on staff with an average of 16 years experience…including 4 mechanics who have passed the coveted “L-1″ test and two who are double master certified.” Where would you rather take your car?

Trait #4: Ability To See From The Customer’s Perspective: If you’ve ever bought a diamond, you know how confusing that process can be. The problem is that most people rarely buy a diamond so most people have no clue how to judge a diamond’s worth. They have to rely on that guy at the jewelry store to tell them. Don’t worry that he’ll say anything to make a sale because he’s going to starve if you don’t buy. He’ll probably be perfectly honest with you.

I met a man that sold diamonds out of his huge, beautiful home at wholesale prices straight to the public. He understood his customers’ perspective…”HELP! We know nothing and we’re afraid we’re going to get screwed!” He would sit perspective customers down in a nice leather chair and explain to them the history of diamonds – from volcanoes to mines, to cutting, polishing, and to wholesale buying and selling. He used a myriad of books, charts, and pictures. He explained exactly what someone needed to know about diamonds before making a decision. And oh, by the way, if they wanted to look at some diamonds, he had some of those too.

His process was so disarming, and so educational, he sold 80% of the people that sat in that nice leather chair. Compare that to the usual jewelry store: they shove 63 rings on you finger in 12 minutes and try to pressure you into buying the big, ugly, yellow one with a huge commission because it’s been in their inventory for so long. The average jewelry store will sell less than 10% of the people that sit in their cheesy, velvety chairs. (Bonus question: How could you cross-pollinate this sales method to other businesses? Hint: it has nothing to do with the nice leather chair.)